Chicken Chili with Quinoa

20130226-210918.jpgWe went to the zoo this past weekend. We packed up our baby girl, loaded her in her baby carrier and went to the zoo. We went to the zoo and I cried. We saw the red pandas first. They are so cute and loveable. And they just pace. In circles. Endlessly. In this tiny pen, no bigger then my bedroom. Then it was the river otter, who my husband asked if he was a robot because he kept flipping over. And over. And over. It was the lion that really did it. This majestic African beast, in a foot of snow in Wisconsin. In a pen smaller then my back yard. He started growling and climbed high upon the rock in the middle of his pen. The crowd ooohed and aahhhed and I started crying. Seeing that beautiful creature, unable to hunt, unable to run, with no pride of his own, broke my heart. Even worse was the ignorance of the people around me. It was too much to handle so we just left. On the way home we talked about how we would talk to our daughter about the animals at the zoo when we take her there when she’s older. It hurt my heart to see what we humans have done for our own entertainment. We’ve spent century’s destroying the environment in which these creatures live and then collecting them for our pleasure. It makes me ill.

20130226-211254.jpgSo I came home and drowned my sorrows in a pot and a stove and a glass of bourbon. I made a huge pot of chili. I chopped and sautéed and stewed until it didn’t feel so awful. Something about being at my stove brings me peace. And this chili was the perfect serving of comfort in a bowl. I wasn’t planning on chili but got inspired by some left over quinoa and just went with it. It’s the perfect stew for a cold night when it all just feels like too much. Pair it with a beer or a cocktail and the world melts away.

20130226-211457.jpgChicken Chili with Quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion
3 bell peppers of varying colors
3 chicken breasts
8 ounces of tomato paste
1 tablespoon cumin
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cayenne(or to taste)
16 ounces diced tomatoes
16 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 cups water
3 cups kidney beans
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 diced green onions
Salt and pepper

1. In a large pot heat olive oil. Dice onions and peppers. Cook until onions are translucent. Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Add to onions and peppers, cooking until slightly browned. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add chili powder, cumin, sugar, honey, flour and cayenne, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 more minute. Add diced and crushed tomatoes and beans. I used dried kidney beans which i had soaked overnight. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Add quinoa, cilantro, green onion and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream and more cilantro.

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